Pilot Project: Developing, Testing an Objective Tool for Measuring Postural and Vibrational Exposures During Forestry and Agricultural Work

(PNASH Pilot, 2001-2005) Forty-two noise exposures and 164 whole-body (WBV) and hand-arm (HAV) vibration exposures were collected from 43 forestry workers in six trades employed by two forestry companies. Data were collected on 10 days over 8 weeks during a various felling, logging, and log handling operations. Up to 5 volunteers were monitored for noise and vibration daily using datalogging noise dosimeters, which provided daily time-weighted averages (TWAs) and 1-min averages; and a precision sound level meter equipped to measure human vibration, which provided triaxial HAV and WBV event-weighted averages (AEQs). Workers completed a short questionnaire throughout the workday detailing the timing and number of tasks performed and equipment used. Substantial overexposures to noise and vibration were seen; for example, 60% of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) TWAs and 83% of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) noise TWAs exceeded 85 dBA, 33-53% of the axis-specific HAV AEQs exceeded the 8-hour American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists' HAV threshold limit value, and 34% of all summary weighted WBV AEQs exceeded the Commission of the European Communities' 8-hour exposure limit. The mean for 99 WBV summary weighted AEQ was 3.53 6 7.12 m/sec2, whereas the mean for 65 HAV summary weighted AEQ was 5.45 6 5.25m/sec2. The mean OSHA TWA was 86.1 6 6.2 dBA, whereas the mean NIOSH TWA was 90.2 6 5.1 dBA. The task and tool with the highest exposure levels were unveiling chokers on landings and chain saws (noise), log processing and frontend loaders (WBV), and notching stumps and chain saws (HAV). An internal validation substudy indicated excellent agreement between worker-reported and researcher-documented task and tools.

Publication List
Neitzel, N. Yost, M. Task-Based Assessment of Occupational Vibration and Noise Exposures in Forestry Workers. AIHA Journal, 63:617–627 (2002)